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Becoming the Change
An offering from
The M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence
At the University of Rochester, New York
Embodying Peace and Nonviolence
Kindness Towards Ourselves and Others
When I despair, I remember that all through history
the ways of truth and love have always won.
There have been tyrants, and murderers,
and for a time they can seem invincible,
but in the end they always fall. Think of it – always.
M. K. Gandhi
Gandhi’s believed that the inherent truth of human nature is not violence, but rather kindness, caring and cooperation. He was not alone. This belief echoes the wisdom of the ages, past as present. That we must first learn to manifest this truth within our own hearts and minds resonates with the teachings of the world’s spiritual traditions and the findings of modern science.
World peace begins with inner peace. If we want peace in the world
we must first make peace with ourselves.
The 14th Dalai Lama.
The task for each of us is to determine how to manifest this within ourselves and have this reflected in our thoughts, words and deeds. In doing so we can also discover the gift of true happiness.
It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of nonviolence to cover immaturity. Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.
Loving Kindness (Metta) Meditation:
A Practice for Embodying Nonviolence
In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth. M.K. Gandhi
This meditation from the Buddhist tradition as been practiced and refined over thousands of years. In the traditional form the students are instructed by their teachers to practice by first offering metta to themselves. When they were ready, the teacher gives permission to widen the circle…to friends, family, community and finally to enemies. This process can literally take years.
Find a comfortable location to sit or lie down.
Settle in by taking a relaxing breath or two.
When you are ready, gently close your eyes.
Scan your body by moving your attention slowly from
the bottoms of your feet to the top of you head, noticing
any areas of tension.
Turn your attention to your breathing and gently
hold your attention there as you breath in and out.
With each in-breath imagine breathing in the calm, loving energy.
With each out-breath imagine breathing out all tension, worry and anger.
When you notice that your mind has wandered, gently bring it back to your breathing.
When you feel fully settled into being present with yourself, repeat the following phrases three times.
May I be kind to myself.
May I be peaceful.
May I be free from suffering
When you want, you can end the meditation by gently opening your eyes. Then notice how you are feeling.
Variations on the
Loving Kindness Meditation
Choosing you own phrases
There may be phrases that you like better than the ones in the basic meditation. Try some of them. But then settle in to saying the same ones every time. Here is some space to write some down.
Offering loving kindness to others.
We know from experience that it more difficult to be kind to others when we are consumed with worry or pain. This self-protective mechanism is normal and healthy. Yet we want to be able to give to others. There are two ways.
First, practice being kind to yourself.
As radical as this may seem, this practice directly benefits those around us. In a very real way you are practicing embodying non-violence and being like Gandhi, The Dalai Lama, Jesus and countless others who nourish themselves through meditation, reflection and prayer.
Second, offer this meditation to others.
You can do this simply by changing “I” to the name of the person or group of people. It is best to start with someone you care about.As you become more secure in the practice you can offer it even to someone you hate or consider your enemy.
Using loving kindness meditations in your daily life.
In every situation there is an opportunity to practice nonviolence by bringing kindness to that encounter.
As you become familiar with the meditation you can use the phrases to help you relax in many situations. At the doctor’s office, in classes, in traffic…. at the checkout counter, in encounters with difficult people.
List simple ways you might bring this practice into your life.